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Japan food 'safe' says diplomat

Manama, April 28, 2011

A Japanese diplomat has urged Bahrain to reconsider a clamp on food imports from his country.

The Industry and Commerce Ministry announced on Tuesday that airport and port officials had been told not to allow any food products from Japan into the country, unless they were accompanied by proper certification.

It said the decision also included food from countries that had witnessed increased radiation levels as a result of a leak at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered extensive damage in a devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The ban excludes food shipments accompanied by an official certificate confirming the produce was safe, as well as items produced and prepared for shipment before the reactor was damaged.

However, Japanese Embassy second secretary Yukio Ishibiki claimed all food exported to Bahrain was safe and argued there was no need for tighter regulation.

'It is unfortunate that the restriction has been imposed against Japanese food, which we think is overreacting,' said the diplomat, who works in the embassy's economic section.

'We would like to request the people of Bahrain to respond calmly.

'We would also like authorities in Bahrain not to take unnecessary measures, since no Japanese food which is contaminated is exported to Bahrain.'

He said food imports to Bahrain last year were valued at $1.5 million.

'This is relatively small,' he added.

'About 99 per cent of total imports from Japan to Bahrain consists of industrial goods such as vehicles.'

The ban on food imports is part of a contingency plan drawn up by Bahrain in the face of the radiation threat from Japan.

Other measures include screening passengers arriving at Bahrain International Airport and inspections of ships from Japan.

'The government of Japan inspects radioactivity in food every day and restricts food distribution that fails to meet regulation values,' said  Ishibiki.

'This is based on the criteria set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, taking into consideration the spread of contamination.'

Our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) reported on April 14 that all ships, cargo planes and foods imported from Japan could be monitored for radioactive contamination.

This was one of the main recommendations approved by GCC environmental officials at a meeting in Bahrain on April 12.

It was held at the invitation of the Public Commission for Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife.

Another recommendation was the monitoring of airborne radiation to ensure no pollutants reached the Gulf.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | commerce | Trade | Health | medical | Radiation | Japanese food | import ban |

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